Netizen Voices: Thought, Hope, and Imagination

Shi Shusi, director of the editorial board for the Worker’s Daily weekly magazine, piqued his Weibo followers on November 24 with this post:
ShiShusi: U.S. Supreme Court Judge Louis Brandeis: “It is hazardous to discourage thought, hope, and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government.”
石述思:美国联邦最高法院大法官布兰代斯:对人们自由思想、未来的希望及想象力的吓阻是危险的;因为恐惧会导致自由的压抑,长期之压抑将导致怨愤,而怨愤将威胁政府的稳定。
The quotation comes from Brandeis’ famous defense of freedom of speech in the 1927 case of Whitney v. California. California had convicted Anita Whitney under the Criminal Syndicalism Act in 1919 for her role in establishing the state’s Communist Labor Party, which it alleged encouraged the overthrow of the government. The case went before the Supreme Court for possible violation of due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Although the court unanimously agreed that California had not violated the amendment, Brandeis spoke out against the presumption of guilt for association with an organization that it merely alleged taught violence. The quotation is part of a larger argument in favor of any speech which does not pose “clear and imminent danger.”
Brandeis’ words as no less powerful out of context. Many readers find Brandeis, and in turn Shi, inspiring. Others scoff at seeing this quotation from journalist for one of China’s oldest government mouthpieces. From CDT Chinese:
PoliticalCommissarq: Mr. Shi’s citation is quite right. I hope the government can design a channel for people to vent their anger.
政委q:石兄代言的相当正确,希望政府能设计出一个泄愤的通道
Evanxin: reply@PoliticalCommissarq: This already exists. It’s called Weibo.
evanxin:回复@政委q:已经有了,就是微博啊
VMicroViewpoints: I guess this theory doesn’t hold in countries like North Korea and West Korea?
V微观点:这理论用在朝鲜类国家失效了吧?
argence: Don’t they understand these principles? The only thing they demand is that the current government maintain stability for the time being.
argence:这些道理难道他们不懂吗?他们只要本届政府能压住能暂时稳定
liqiao68: Gradually getting used to servility and repression, that’s what to be feared.
坚定地活着:就怕慢慢习惯了奴性和压抑
BeiYesUtopia: Everything that ought to

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One Response to Netizen Voices: Thought, Hope, and Imagination

  1. Will says:

    Congratulations to the voices in academia, media circles, and online who question continuing servility and self-censorship in the face of an Orwellian authoritarian regime.